Bloc party
Hebrew media review

Bloc party

Papers block out large blocks of space for Livni's center-left blocking bloc maneuver

Hatnua's Tzipi Livni shakes hands with Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich in November 2012 (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
Hatnua's Tzipi Livni shakes hands with Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich in November 2012 (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

If you’re Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chances are you were not happy to see the four major Hebrew papers Sunday morning. Each feature an attack on Netanyahu and his plans to lead the government again after the elections, with some coming from the right and most from the left.

The move by the left flank, the more worrying one if your last name is Netanyahu, to create a bloc that could overcome egos and possibly the sitting prime minister, leads off Maariv, Israel Hayom and Yedioth Ahronoth, with the first two playing particularly close attention to the Likud accusation that it is none other than President Shimon Peres who is helping the center-left bloc form. Shimon Peres? Identifying with the left? Couldn’t be. But yes, according to Netanyahu’s Likud party, the man who wants to be your friend for peace also wants to be friends with Shelly Yachimovich, Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid and for a big piece of the parliamentary pie.

In Israel Hayom, Matti Tuchfeld calls the whole thing a leftist tango and intimates the Likud has a good reason to suspect Peres of meddling: “It’s the same Livni who said she met with him in the last few days and recruited him to her attempt to unite the left. Also Yachimovich met with Peres a few days ago, and lookey here, Lapid did too. The old assumption of the Likud — that Peres is doing everything to put the job of building a government on anyone else — is only strengthened. After he crowned [Mahmoud Abbas] as a partner and tried to shift the agenda against the policies of the outgoing government, which is trying to get reelected, it’s just like Peres to continue in his attempts to stir and mix, mingle and interfere. The President’s Residence, by the way, denies the accusation.”

Maariv features a nice little Q&A courtesy of Arik Bender, explaining what the center-left blocking bloc (yes, that’s how it’s known) would be and why the Lapid-Livni-Yachimovich triumvirate has little hope of actually pulling it off.

“The chances of creating a blocking bloc are extremely slim. According to surveys, the right bloc has a secure lead, and as of now an attempt like this doesn’t look realistic. Labor is set to receive around 18 seats, Hatnua and Yesh Atid are hovering around 10 each and maybe even less. Meretz is treading in single-digit territory, and even if they get Hadash, Balad and Raam-Ta’al [all Arab parties], we’re talking about an unrealistic scenario. Only if these parties recruit a party on the right of the map, like Shas or [Jewish Home], will they be able to create a bloc like this.”

Yedioth, still basking in the glory of its earth-shattering interview with Yuval Diskin, in which the former Shin Bet head pummeled Netanyahu in the Friday paper, sees the creation of the leftist bloc as an outgrowth of its own journalism (Mr. Peres be damned). Sima Kadmon, writing in an analytic capacity, first writes that it doesn’t matter what triggered Livni’s initiative to create the center-left bloc, but then can’t resist giving her paper a high-five: “It seems to me that the thing that caused Livni to say on Channel 2 on Friday night that she plans to turn to Yachimovich and Lapid to meet with them and to try to put together an allied front that will work against Netanyahu’s rule was the interview with former Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin in Yedioth Ahronoth, an interview that turned the stomach of anyone who read it, no matter which camp they are in or which party they plan on voting for. And maybe the same interview caused Yachimovich to quickly text Livni that she is ready to join the initiative, and less than a day later for Lapid to also agree to a joint meeting.”

Honeymoon’s over

Haaretz pushes at Netanyahu from another angle, quoting a Yisrael Beytenu spokesman saying that the alliance between Likud and Yisrael Beytenu party will end when the last vote is counted. Though the final status of the alliance was to be decided a month after the elections, former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman’s party seems to want to annul the marriage as quickly as possible. According to the story, Likud will also be happy to unhitch its wagon from Yisrael Beytenu as soon as possible, saying the alliance hurt the ruling party in the long run. “At the moment most of the polls give an average of 34 Knesset seats to the joint slate,” an unnamed (as always) Likud minister is quoted as saying. “We lost six and are left with only 21 seats, while Liberman lost only two and is left with 12. Now it’s clear to everyone that Liberman made the better deal. And now it’s clear why his long-time consultant, Arthur Finkelstein, pushed and encouraged this union. He was working for his main client — Liberman.”

All of these coalition kerfuffles seem like a bunch of crybaby bickering compared to the fighting north of the border. Yedioth reports that a couple of young men from Arab town of Taibe recently hopped across the frontier to join up with the Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar Assad. According to the story, the battle started off swimmingly, but a relative recounts to Yedioth that things, but not the two rebels, quickly went south. “He said the rebels separated him from his friend and burned their passports, so they can’t return home” the relative said, recounting a phone conversation with the noob rebel. “He said that he’s very afraid and his and his friend’s lives are in danger. He said the rebels told him that whoever joins up can’t go back home.” The story adds that the Foreign Ministry is working with Turkey to try and get the two back, but so far they have had no success.

Left behind

Haaretz resident cranky far-leftist Gideon Levy writes an op-ed that would make Ned Flanders proud, castigating the Zionist left for not being left enough and saying the left should be left to the leftist Arab parties to lead the leftist charge from the left.

“While the Palestinian left speaks of a just life together, the Israeli left speaks of separation (based on race, of course),” he writes. “Hatnuah chief Tzipi Livni says correct things about the two-state solution, but she preaches from nationalist motives. She wants a state without (many) Arabs, a Jewish state, which she defines as a nationalist state. Israel for the Jews. Just like France for the French and Germany for the Germans. In French and German this sounds terrible; only in Hebrew does it pass muster. Not a word about morality and human rights for all. Labor Party chief Shelly Yachimovich, meanwhile, makes firm and correct statements about social justice and discrimination, but she only wants justice for Jews.”

In Yisrael Hayom’s op-ed section, student leader Yoav Bedolach writes of his journey with 200 other students to move to the poor, mixed city of Lod, which is often thought of as Israel’s Gary, Indiana, only without the Jackson Five. Bedolach opines that it’s easy to write off Lod as a basket case, but the city can be turned around: “The students of Lod have a shared and common vision: to put Lod in the place where it should be — a model city that takes its fate in its own hands and turns from a symbol of neglect into a symbol of prosperity.”

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